How do I make a will?

Your will is a legal document that ensures your money, property and possessions go where you want them to after your death. There are several services that can help you write your will in Torbay.

An overview of writing a will

Making a will ensures your property, money and possessions go where you want them to, and can even help ensure your recipients don’t pay more Inheritance Tax than they need to.

If you die without a will, the law will decide who gets what.

You can write your will yourself, but you should always seek advice as it can be a complex process.

To make it legally valid, your document will need to be formally witnessed and signed. If you want to update your will, you need to make an official alteration (called a ‘codicil’) or make a new will.

What should I include in my will?

Your will should set out several things, including:

  • Who will benefit from your will
  • Who should look after any children under 18
  • Who is going to sort out your estate and carry out your wishes after your death (your executor)
  • What happens if the people you want to benefit die before you
When should I seek legal advice?

You should always seek legal advice when writing a will, especially if it’s not straightforward, for example:

  • You share a property with someone who is not your husband, wife or civil partner
  • You want to leave money or property to a dependant who cannot care for themselves
  • You have several family members who may make a claim on your will, such as a second spouse or children from another marriage
  • Your permanent home is outside the UK
  • You have property overseas
  • You have a business
Where should I keep my will?

Many people choose to keep their will at home, but you can also store it with:

  • Your solicitor
  • Your bank
  • A will-storage service – find these online
  • The London Probate Service

You can find out more about storing your will by reading information from the Probate Service.

Tell your executor (the person who’s going to carry out your will) where the will is. 

Is my will legal?

Your will is only legally valid if you:

  • Are 18 or over
  • Make it voluntarily
  • Of sound mind
  • Make it in writing
  • Sign it in the presence of two witnesses, who are both 18
  • Have it signed by your two witnesses, in your presence

If you make any changes to your will, you must follow the same signing and witnessing process.

You cannot leave your witnesses (or their married partners) anything in your will. 

Should I update my will?

Review your will every five years and after any major change in your life (separation, divorce, marriage, having children, moving house).

You should also update your will if the executor named in the will dies.

To adjust a will after it’s been signed and witnessed, you need to make an official alteration called a codicil.

This codicil must be witnessed in the same way as a will. There are no limits on how many codicils you can add to a will.

However, for major changes you should make a new will. This should explain that it revokes (officially cancels) all previous wills and codicils. You should destroy your old will by burning it or tearing it up. 

What should I do next?

Before you make a care decision, look into it a little more and ask advice where you can. These resources should be able to help you: